From November to March, Te Anau & Milford Sound accommodation is heavily booked. But if you plan ahead, this is the ideal base for walking the Kepler Track and visiting Milford or Doubtful Sound.
We recently stayed in the Te Anau Lakeview Kiwi Holiday Park & Marakura motels. The motels are well equipped and have great views across Lake Te Anau, the South Island’s largest lake.
You’ll be well away from the campers and backpackers and don’t let the close proximity to the road put you off. By 6.00 pm, the traffic is scarce until the following morning. In one day, the lake can change from total mirror calm to choppy seas. Watching the sun go down is one of the day’s highlights.
….before enjoying a great sleep in a comfy bed.
For a differently priced level of accommodation and comfort in Te Anau, we enjoyed a 3-night stay at Dock Bay Lodge, a beautiful rural and boutique experience, just 6 kms out of Te Anau.
The feeling that we’d walked into something special, started at the front door.
And continued inside.
Just when we thought it couldn’t get any better, we were shown to one of the lodge’s 5 suites, the elegant ‘Luxmore’ suite. We loved the high stud and the calming cream & gold interiors.
Its was so easy to relax from our private balcony – seriously, how good is this view!
Milford Sound Lodge
Milford Sound has limited accommodation and is geared towards the backpacker market, but Milford Sound Lodge has built upmarket chalets for visitors requiring a different comfort level, including underfloor heating and a super-king bed.
Views from the chalet are spectacular, making it hard to work while travelling.
A few of the chalets are close to the backpackers ablution block, but if you can ignore the occasional whooping-it-up of young adventurers, you’ll get an an extremely close-up encounter with nature.
Even in bad weather, Milford Sound takes on a powerful ethereal beauty, unique to anywhere in the world. But that’s just my opinion, dear traveller. Best you come here and judge for yourself.
You don’t have to be a golfer to enjoy the upscale Millbrook luxury Golf Resort Queenstown. We spent 4 days at this 500-acre property, only 10 minutes from Central Queenstown. The approach to Millbrook set the scene for what was to be a sensational birthday celebration.
This resort is like a small town but the sense you get is one of space and beauty. No matter where you walk, the mountain backdrop and pristine greens are visually stunning.
The accommodation sits in a horseshoe formation around the greens.
From the many accommodation options on offer, we chose one of the semi-attached, 2-level cottages. No matter where in the resort you want to go, reception staff will arrange for an enclosed vehicle to collect then drop you off again at your accommodation.
This is where my sister plonked herself for the rest of the afternoon. With views like this, I can’t say I blamed her.
The Millbrook Spa is of world standard and one of the very few in New Zealand deserving of description. Out of respect for the privacy of other guests, I didn’t take photos, so here is one from supplied by Millbrook:
Out of all the spa experiences I’ve had, both here and overseas, this would rate as the best! The whole process was seamless. I had booked the Pure Indulgence Facial. The staff were living advertisements of their profession – glowing with good health and utterly gorgeous. They worked in discrete silence and with the lilting sound of water and flutes we floated into bliss.
Millhouse Restaurant – Millbrook Resort
There are 3 restaurants at Millbrook, not counting the clubhouse. On the previous night, we’d eaten at the Hole-in-One cafe and enjoyed the freshness of the food. Tonight we dined at The Millhouse, their top tier restaurant. It was great to have some of my family celebrate with me. Say “cheese” guys’.
Of course there is a very good reason for the smiles and here are two of them: 1) the deconstructed sticky date pudding….
….(2) this absolutely scrumptious Chocolate & Raspberry Assiette (Alaska Bomb, Pavlova, Mousse & Compote).
Best Birthday ever!
View other travel blogs on the Queenstown region:
Driving the scenic route Christchurch to Queenstown means first passing through Darfield then veering off on SH77 towards Rakaia Gorge. Just before reaching the gorge, there’s a steep and winding stretch of road, where at the upper most corner, lies a magnificent valley.
There’s a great lookout point a few kms after the bridge and a good place to stop to stretch the legs.
We stopped at the pretty little town of Geraldine, home to Barkers Jams, cheeses, icecream and coffee. In the summer season, Geraldine has a festive atmosphere and is a popular tourist stop.
We resumed driving towards Burkes Pass via the beautiful agricultural area known as Fairlie. Plenty of sheep grazing here and healthy pastures.
After Burkes Pass we reached the ‘jewel’ of the Mackenzie Basin, Lake Tekapo. The beautiful Lake Tekapo has an unusual turquoise-green water resulting from ‘rock flour’ from the glaciers. These fine pieces of sediment mix with the sunlight to create the lake’s unique colour.
We had a great coffee and lunch at Run 76 – bacon & tomato quiche, vegetable frittata and gluten-free options – quality home-baking.
The iconic Church of the Good Shepherd is a very busy place nowadays. Everyone wants a photo opportunity and you may have to jostle for your space! It was all a bit too much for Michael who bundled us up in the car and continues to Lake Pukaki a bit further along. I still manage to get this shot of the Good Shepherd Church before leaving.
Lake Pukaki really is an awesome sight in the true sense of the word! Remember what I said about the colour of the water, well this photo pretty much sums it up.
At Lake Pukaki there is the Mt Cook Alpine Salmon outlet. Its handy to know you can buy salmon before travelling on to Omarama. The small township of Omarama lies at the southern end of the MacKenzie Basin and another good place to stop. The Lindis Pass has a special arid look and always makes a great photo.
The Crown Range is the highest public road in New Zealand. If you’re travelling this road between May and September, you’ll need to carry chains. At 1121 metres, its not for the fainthearted, especially if you have chatterboxes in the car. For the views alone, it’s so worth it.
After slowly descending down to Queenstown to the Millbrook Resort which is 18.7kms out of Queenstown, we arrived to 500 acres of the most breathtaking grounds of reds, golds and greens. This is a great place to celebrate a birthday!
Today we’re driving Nelson to Christchurch Inland Route on a glorious Autumn morning. The Coastal Route may have better cafe options, but the inland route scenery is breathtaking and less travelled.
Driving to Springs Junction, the views constantly change. This one would have to be the day’s favourite:
For me, Springs Junction is merely a petrol and toilet stop but if you’re desperately hungry, there is a ‘tearoom’. You might want to travel a bit further to the cafe at Maruia Springs. There is accommodation at Maruia Springs which has recently changed ownership and undergone refurbishment. Leaving the wide open spaces, we enter into a beautiful forest.
This is the point where Michael becomes the passenger and I take over the driving (except that he never stops being the driver) I like the photo he took showing the milky green of the Maruia River.
The beauty of the Lewis Pass is especially gorgeous after a dusting of snow, however we’ll have to wait a few more months before it’s looking like this:
Driving into the flatness of the Canterbury Plains, we head into the beautiful wine country of Waipara for lunch at the Nor’Wester Cafe at Amberley (a great choice with friendly staff and quality food). The Canterbury Plains are New Zealand’s largest area of flat land, with straight roads cutting across a patchwork of paddocks. Tonight we’re staying at the Hotel Montreal in Christchurch. Beautiful spacious Junior Suite and friendly, helpful housekeeping staff.
Tomorrow marks the official commencement of a very significant birthday for moi! Queenstown here we come. Let the celebrations begin!
We do have our top favourite Nelson cafe restaurants, but when there’s a new kid on the block, we’ll be the first to try it. This little neighbourhood cafe is a real sweetie. Cafe 7010 on Collingwood Street is located opposite the Mitai River, just far enough from the central hub to enjoy a relaxing breather.
Cafe 7010 has the feel of a neighbourhood ‘local’. The cabinet cafe food is not extensive, but the owner has made some clever choices. Good coffee.
On a different level is the Cod & Lobster Brassiere located at the cathedral end of Trafalgar Street. This is a restaurant that offers a full dining experience and as the name suggests, a great fish menu. You can also get lunch plus coffee and cake during the day.
Cod & Lobster Brassiere has a variety of outdoor seating perfect for the warm Nelson weather. The Trafalger Street side is ideal for people-watching. And there are restaurants opposite that do a roaring trade such as The Vic & Mac’s Brewbar which is actually cooler than the name suggests. It has outside seating available and is quite atmospheric inside as well, especially on the cooler evenings.
We don’t often get the chance to chill out under a Nelson Sun. It’s turning out to be a very busy season, so it’s always nice to be welcomed back by staff at our top Favourite Nelson cafe restaurants, who recognise loyal customers.